Most people would agree that one of the surest paths to a high-paying career is an MBA. Graduates of top programs are routinely offered six-figure starting salaries along with handsome signing bonuses to sweeten the pot. MBAs also enjoy an excellent return on their investment. Graduates of many accredited programs recoup their investment within a few years, while graduates of top MBA programs could see a return on their investment (ROI) even faster.
With so many financial benefits to earning an MBA, why would anyone ever think twice about signing up? Like with any advanced degree program, you must take every possible scenario into consideration and weigh the pros and cons. You will find that making a decision based purely on potential financial outcomes probably won’t work out too well. Not everyone is cut out for an MBA program, so you can start by being realistic. Not everyone has the time or resources to be successful. And because not every program can be a top program, it would be a mistake to believe that all MBA degrees will lead to immediate success. So here are some things to consider before applying to an MBA program.
1. Why do I want to get an MBA?
Are you passionate about a career in business? Are you looking to start a business? Are you interested in a big promotion? Do you need to enhance your leadership or other important skills to be more effective in your current position? Do you want global experience? Are you looking to switch careers? Has your employer suggested an MBA to help you move up in the company? These are just a few questions that will help you determine if you truly want (or need) to earn an MBA.
2. Can I afford an MBA?
We’ve already talked about potential earnings and ROI. The problem is, if your employer isn’t footing the bill, you’ll have to pay for your MBA upfront. It doesn’t matter if the program is $50,000 or $150,000, tuition is still expensive. This means you will have to take out loans, dip into savings, and pay out-of-pocket to cover the bill. And if you have to take time off to complete the program, you will lose money in earnings too. Remember, though there are many program formats available (online, hybrid, full-time, part-time) not all programs are available to everyone and not all programs offer flexibility. So consider your finances, they type of program you have been accepted into, and how it will work with your current situation.
3. Do I have what it takes to complete an MBA program?
U.S. News & World Report Education lists five key qualities of a successful MBA application. Besides drive, determination and perseverance, of course, an MBA candidate should have a leadership track record, display quantitative competency, exhibit excellent communication skills, have realistic post-MBA career plans, and have people willing to vouch for them. Does this sound like you?
4. What kind of reputation does the MBA program have?
Here’s the deal. Employers do care about where you received your MBA. Some still care how you got it (online, hybrid, on-campus). An MBA program from a top school will speak for itself whether its online or otherwise. An MBA from an unknown school? Not so much. However, if you find a program that you really like, but it isn’t exactly well known, just look at their stats. The program may have a better track record than you think. Accredited programs will always make this type of information available to potential students and the public. Check their website or give the program coordinator a call.
5. How much time do I have to spare?
MBA programs come in all shapes and sizes, so you will find accelerated programs that take as few as 12 months to complete, part-time programs that could take three to four years to complete, traditional programs that take two years to complete, and more. But no matter how short or long a program may be, there will always be a serious time commitment to study, collaborative projects, possible internships, and even some required overseas experiences. This is even the case with hybrid or fully online programs. If you are lucky enough to get into a program that fits your schedule perfectly, you still have to ask yourself if you can handle job, family, and social obligations and the demands of an MBA program.
Blackman, Stacy. "5 Key Qualities of Successful MBA Applications." U.S. News & World Report Education. U.S. News & World Report, 05 June 2015. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
"5 Reasons to Get an MBA Degree (that Have Nothing to Do with Money)." Walden University. Walden University, 2017. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
Friedman, Jordan. "What Employers Think of Your Online MBA." U.S. News & World Report Education. U.S. News & World Report, 09 Mar. 2016. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
Smith-Barrow, Delece. "4 Stats to Measure Before Signing Up for an MBA." U.S. News & World Report Education. U.S. News & World Report, 22 Mar. 2016. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
Ward, Marguerite. "6 Questions to Ask Yourself before Taking the MBA Plunge." CNBC. CNBC, 19 May 2016. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.